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Russia, India Sign Defense, Energy Agreements

  • VOA News

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Kremlin in Moscow, Dec, 24, 2015.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Kremlin in Moscow, Dec, 24, 2015.

Russia and India signed agreements Thursday worth billions of dollars to build new nuclear power generating units in India and to cooperate in building defense and civil capabilities.

Speaking in Moscow after talks with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the signing ceremony, President Vladimir Putin said Russia would help build at least six more power units in India during the next 20 years.

"The agreement has been reached on India providing one more site for construction of Russian-designed power generating units ... in which the most modern and safe technologies were used," he said.

The six reactors with 1,200-megawatt capacity each are to be built in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Those will be in addition to the six Russia is constructing in neighboring Tamil Nadu state.

Putin also spoke about close cooperation with the country in the military and technology spheres, saying they were successfully working to produce Brahmos missiles and planning to jointly build a new Russian-designed jet fighter and transport aircraft.

India has turned to Russia as U.S. firm General Electric and Westinghouse, a U.S.-based unit of Japan's Toshiba, still are only considering an entry into India's nuclear energy sector because of a law that holds reactor suppliers liable in case of an accident.

Modi is campaigning to build a domestic industrial base and reduce the military's dependence on expensive Western imports. He hailed an agreement to build light Russian-designed helicopters in India as the result of a special and privileged strategic partnership between the two countries.

“We have laid the foundation of the future character of this strategic partnership," he said. "The intergovernmental agreement on manufacturing of Kamov 226 helicopters in India is the first project for a major defense platform under the 'Make-in-India' mission, it is rightly with our most important defense partner.”

Moscow will set up a production line for the light helicopters, which will supply the Indian military and eventually Russia.

For Russia, India offers an alternative, fast-growing market for its exports as sanctions imposed by the West have squeezed its economy.

India and Russia plan to boost their trade from around $10 billion to $30 billion annually over the next decade.

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